Archive of Corroborated Cases of Recovered Memory
Corroborated cases of recovered memory have been observed in legal, clinical, and other settings, with a variety of corroborating factors from documentary physical evidence to perpetrator confession. This archive compiles a selection of these cases, focusing on those with significant corroborating evidence. It is intended to serve as a resource for journalists, scholars, and students searching for examples of corroborated cases of recovered memory, and to challenge faulty claims that such documented cases do not exist.
Cases Filtered By:
Legal cases are cases of recovered memory which were examined through the legal system. Some of these cases are criminal cases, in which recovered memories were used as evidence in a trial in which a state or federal government charges a defendant with a crime, or when recovered memories led to the re/opening of a criminal investigation. Other cases are civil cases, in which recovered memories play a role in one citizen suing another (or an institution or estate), usually seeking compensation for damages and recognition of harm. This section includes cases in which there was a legal settlement of claims.
About the Archive
The Recovered Memory Project began in 1995 with a letter to PBS objecting to false statements made by Ms. Ofra Bikel, producer of the program “Divided Memories.” That letter described how an undergraduate Research Assistant at Brown University found half a dozen corroborated cases of recovered memory in just a few hours of electronic database searching, disproving Ms. Bikel’s claim to the contrary (Cheit, 1995). PBS did not defend Ms. Bikel’s claim that “she could not find any” corroborated cases of recovered memory in her allegedly extensive search. Ms. Bikel’s program was later described in an article in the Columbia Journalism Review titled “U-Turn on Memory Lane” [link, in drive] (July/Aug 1997) as “a four-hour polemic” that only “purported to be balanced”.
This website was launched in conjunction with a presentation at the American Psychological Association meetings in Chicago, August 18, 1997. For a more detailed discussion of the criteria for including cases in the archive, along with some reflections on the science and politics of recovered memory, see Ross E. Cheit, “Consider This, Skeptics of Recovered Memory,” Ethics and Behavior, 8(2), 141-160 (1998). [link, in drive]
While the evidence demonstrating the existence of recovered memory has increased over time, the need for this website remains clear as various journalists (and academics) continue to fail to acknowledge this evidence. The New York Times, for example, made this mistake in its Science section on April 25, 2000. More recently, in July 2003, Bruce Grierson’s article on Susan Clancy in the Sunday Magazine contained the false claim that “cognitive psychologists” as a group had rejected the concept of recovered memory. In fact, three prominent cognitive psychologists co-authored a chapter on Recovered Memories in the 2002 Encyclopedia of the Human Brain, Volume 4. (pp. 169-184). San Diego, California and London: Academic Press.